Army Of Freshmen
UNDER THE RADAR
BRAND NEW HERO 1.12.07
To be perfectly honest, when I first listened to Army Of Freshmen on their myspace page, I didn’t like them one bit. It wasn’t my kind of music, it didn’t seem particularly musical… And I was lost for what to say in my review. When I received a copy of the album in the post, I was still pretty sure Army Of Freshmen just weren’t my cup of tea. That was soon to change. When I listened to the entire album properly, paying attention to the lyrics and the melodies, my opinion completely altered. True, they’re still not my usual musical style – synthesisers and short, catchy choruses that refuse to leave your mind afterwards – but I found myself warming to the addictive tracks.
The one thing I find Army Of Freshmen strongest in is openings. Every opening of every song on this album is effective and perfectly suited to the song. They often start with the chorus rather than a verse. “Wrinkle In Time” is a great example. The build up of texture at the start is well timed, and the repeated melody throughout the chorus doesn’t get too old. The opening of the second track, “10,000 Years” reminds me faintly of Sum 41. It doesn’t last. The lyrics are light hearted and fun to sing along with, “I know she’s right for me, just the wrong century”.
Anyone who has ever listened to a boy band will recognise the structural story line of “Juliet”. It’s a typical dorky-guy-meets-gorgeous-girl-and-falls-in-love kind of tale, complaining about her wonderful boyfriend and how she’ll never notice him. Still, Army Of Freshmen do it in a pretty original way, making it their own. The lyrics here are amusing, “She doubt that she’ll go out with me cause/I don’t have a car”.
“Some Happy Ending” is one of my favourite songs on the album, and I would strongly recommend it. It has yet another effective opening, and the use of harmony stands out. “Through The Screen”, however, is a little bland and doesn’t have much to make it individual. “Down At The Shore” is another personal favourite, and tells a clear love story of summer loving down at the beach. The overall message is, I’ve moved on but I still miss you. Most of us know how that feels.
“Waiting On Me” is a bit too similar to other songs we’ve already heard. You can listen to it without paying too much attention, but attempt to analyse it too much and it becomes a bit dull. “Erase Us” is a beautiful song. It’s slower than most of the others, though still quite upbeat, and is all about giving up after fighting for a long time. If I had to pick one song as my favourite, this would be it.
“Groundbreaking Sound” is a bouncy song with a heavy beat, good for making you want to get up and dance. The vocals have a little more attitude than a lot of the other songs. “Maybe In The Midwest” has a nice na-na-na thing going on, nice to hear. Just one burst brings a smile to your face. I particularly like the chorus of this song, the vocals are used to greater effect. Less talking, more singing. “Talk Of The Town” also has a heavy beat, easy to sing along to and particularly good at making you want to.
“At The End Of The Day” seems to drag on a bit. There are too many sections, too many repeated choruses. The ending is well planned though, with good use of dynamics. “Shackle The Wind” is the perfect song to end the album. It is the slowest track on “Under The Radar” and holds a lot of emotion within it. Whereas most of the other songs have had large elements of humour, “Shackle The Wind” seems more serious and deep. Compared to the others, you would doubt it was the same band.
So. Army Of Freshmen. “Under The Radar”. What can I say? I wrote it off, but it grew on me. I wouldn’t say it’s my kind of music, or that they’ll ever be one of my favourite bands. But I like what they’ve done with it. Whether they’re to your taste or not, I would recommend giving them a try. You never know how much you miss cheesy boy-meets-girl lyrics.